In these past 2 decades, I’ve owned two retail businesses, had 2 business partners, managed multiple locations, had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing individuals
After loading up my Toyota 4 Runner and voting in the 1992 Presidential Election, I headed West from Lawrence, Kansas to Portland, Oregon with a solid plan to open a buy, sell, trade clothing store. My dear friend and business partner, Spike, and I lived above a resale clothing store in our college town. Their door was broken and we heard that door slamming open and shut non stop, signaling the traffic coming and going from that business. Their broken door opened our next door from college life in Lawrence, Kansas to new business in Portland, Oregon.
In these past 2 decades, I’ve owned two retail businesses, had 2 business partners, managed multiple locations, had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing individuals, worked with a major advertising agency on an advertising campaign for one of my stores that was published and won several awards, created sell out fashion show events, worked with hundreds of vendors and designers, and grew my knowledge base from old school traditional retail to the often frenetic and highly competitive on-line retail environment and basically gained the hard knock street knowledge no formal education can prepare you for.
For the past 12 years I have more formally and more frequently imparted my knowledge to others both as a counselor for Portland’s Small Business Development Center and independently as a small business consultant. I truly love the beauty of thoughtfully curated independent stores, full of interesting products and ephemera that no big box store could ever come close to sharing with an interested shopper. And while on-line spaces offer endless crafts and offerings by smart and talented individuals, nothing replaces the smells, music, ambiance, personal interaction and “touch” that only a brick and mortar store provides.
I’ve taken my passion for independent retail and small business to advocacy with my position on Portland’s Small Business Advisory Council. Our mission is to ensure that City of Portland pubic policy take into account how all actions impact small business. While independent retailers are busy with the day to day operations of their businesses, I make sure that issues particular to small retailers are presented to city leaders and policy makers.
Most of all, I work to maintain and grow my business, blackwagon.com, so that it can provide for my amazing family and dedicated employees, while offering the best I am committed to seeing small businesses thrive. In this blog, you’ll find all the passion and action that comes from my work and I’m happy to be sharing that with you!